Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hawaii Continues

The fun continues in Hawaii! On Friday we drove around the whole island of Oahu. Started off at Pali Lookout. It was a breathtaking view. It also had a bloody past, quite literally.

Can you tell it was a very windy day?

It was here that the natives used to throw opposing tribes off the cliff at war.

Next stop was Laie Point where you can supposedly jump off the rocks. But since the waves were so rough that day, Hubby decided not to attempt the jump. Seeing a bunch of flowers at one area in memory of someone helped too.

You can see Hubby checking the cliff in the background.

We then stopped for a shrimp lunch at one of the Shrimp Trucks along the road. It was a very interesting meal. Good thing they had hot dogs too since I'm allergic to shrimps. Hubby said it was really good! The kids washed the meal down with some shaved ice. Shaved ice seems to be a big thing here in Hawaii.


Trucks like these were parked along the roads all offering shrimps.

Next stop was Waimea Bay. The beach was a bit crowded and the waves were big! Boy Wonder and Nachos mostly stayed under the shade with Gong Gong and Puo Puo while the big kids tackled the waves. It was fun! I got wiped out the first time, but then got used to it. But it sure was hard swimming back to shore!

That's me, just happy to have finally swum back to shore!


There was this tree that had a whole bunch of slippers and things nailed to it. We thought it was an interesting way of dealing with items left on the beach.

That evening my brother K arrived from LA. Yey! It was great to have the whole family together in Hawaii.

The next day was surf lessons! Come on, how can you go to Hawaii and not surf? Good thing the lesson wasn't expensive because we sure didn't want to spend too much for it! Both my brothers and I took the lessons while hubby and the kids hung out at the beach. I thought it was going to be wipe out after wipe out for me, but heck, turned out I got it on the first try! But unfortunately the waves were quite pathetic that day. After the first wave that I caught and after spending what felt like an eternity to get back out into water, I gave it a few more goes and surrendered. I've still got sore arms and shoulders!


After a full day of fun in the sun, we had dinner at Chibo which specializes in okonomiyakis. We wanted to go to a restaurant that had really good Japanese food. The website is in Japanese and Hubby loves okonomiyakis, so it was a winner. The kids loved it too. They even gave Nachos a plastic thingy which helped her with the chopsticks. We also celebrated my brother's belated 40th birthday.


We had a huge brunch at Roy's on Sunday which is within this golf resort. It was a very pleasant location. The food was good and huge! All in all it was just great spending time with the whole family. We don't get to take many family pictures like this.


Today we went to Pearl Harbor. Because we are being a bit stingy, we only went to the free portion of the tour. We didn't want to pay anything to see the submarine nor the battle ship. Although it was a very simple tour of the museum and the memorial I still got a bit emotional looking at all those peoples names who were lost that day. The memorial is build on top of the USS Arizona. Since it sunk too quickly, more than 1000 sailors are still entombed within it to this day. While looking at the list of names on the wall, we noticed there was an additional portion dedicated to those who survived but chose to be "buried" along with their shipmates when they died later.

This model shows how the memorial is build on top of the sunken ship.
Here's Boy Wonder as Ranger for the day after completing their book of activities.

My older brother goes back to LA tomorrow, so we've just been hanging out together. We got to know the resident swans a bit better today by feeding them some bread. We also ventured out into the golf course which is the backyard of this house.


We went to Chili's after the kids have gone to bed to spend some sibling time together. We gave K some pointers and encouragement for his job interview on Thursday. We're crossing our fingers that he gets the job. Good luck K!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Hawaii Day 1 & 2

Aloha! Greetings from sunny, partly cloudy and a bit muggy Oahu! We arrived here on Wednesday and are having a great time at the beach and pool side.

It was a LONG trip to get here. We left Tuesday afternoon and got to Sydney first. Because we took Japan Airlines, we had to stay in Sydney for the night to catch an early flight to Tokyo the next day. And since we had 2 kids, we couldn't stay in one room. We had to get 2 rooms. What a rip off.


So anyways, off to Tokyo we went the next day. Since it was a day flight, we had to think of ways to entertain the kids for 9 hours! Good thing I brought pens, color changing markers, books, dolls and even Play Doh! We landed in Tokyo for our connecting flight just before things got ugly. It wasn't a long wait before we were off to Honolulu. It was a 7 hour flight this time and Qthank goodness it was bedtime by then so both kids passed out not long after meal service. We finally arrived at Honolulu Airport at around 7:30am, Wednesday.

The only nerve wracking thing was driving our rental car to JW Marriott since I had to reacquaint myself to driving on the right side of the road. I'm glad we didn't get lost and arrived without incident. We went to the beach straight away, had a big brunch buffet then met up with my parents and brother who just arrived.


We are staying at The Coconut Plantation which is in a gated residential area along with JW Marriott Ihilani. The house we're staying at belongs to my brother, his in-laws and an aunt of theirs. It is right next to the golf course with black swans. Its so nice!

Walkway leading to the front door
Very territorial black swans who chased us away!

The beach is less than a 10 minute walk, the pool has a beach-like area and its just plain pleasant here. The kids love it.






On the day we arrived, I was already able to catch up with a friend of mine and her husband whom I haven't seen in 8 years! She was also in Hawaii to meet up with her parents who all agreed to meet half way. That way she didn't have to go to Manila with her husband and her parents didn't have to fly all the way to the States. That is pretty much why we're in Hawaii too!

There are also these flowers all along the sidewalk which are quite common. We used to have them in our garden in Manila. My mom taught us how to pull out the stamen from the bottom of the flower which squeezes the nectar out and then you can lick it. Its a bit sweet.


But one of the best things about seeing my parents again is eating my mom's home cooked meals! Even though its very simple, I was telling my mom tonight that it just tastes like her cooking. It doesn't matter what ingredients go in, I just know she cooked it.


We'll be exploring the island tomorrow, so more updates in a few days!
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Auctions

We went to a house contents auction on Sunday. The house very close by had tons of paintings by well known local artists, antiques, furniture, jewellery and old bank notes. This is the second time I've been to one and I was so happy I went! I checked it out on a viewing day just out of curiiousity, but then, tucked in the walk-in wardrobe was this beautiful painting! I knew I had to get it. This is definitely one more thing I love about moving to Australia.

The first time I went to a house contents auction, it was well publicised with flyers and even a clip on the Sunday newspaper. It belonged to some Taiwanese businessman who decided to leave Australia and left most of his valuables behind to be auctioned off. I went just to check it out on a viewing day and was amazed by the amount of paintings he had accumulated. Although many were not my type, I saw this painting and fell in love with it right away.


Lily Pond by Evan Mackley

Hubby was playing golf that day so I had to give him a call and ask what was the maximum amount I could spend on it. After some discussion we agreed on the limit and I went to the auction later that day. Thank goodness a good friend was available to watch the kids for abit while I was waiting for my painting to come up. It was nerve racking! It reminded me of the day we attended the auction where we bought this house! But not that major of course. I actually tried bidding for a few other items like a lovely bonsai tree and a tiny painting, but there were a few older couples who clearly had the time and money to buy pretty much everything they liked.

When the time came to bid for mine, I didn't stop raising my hands until it was mine! Well, I made sure it didn't go over our limit too. I showed my number, went to pay for it and brought it home. I smile at it whenever I look at it.

This other auction we went to over the weekend was not publicised as much. I got a small flyer through the mail and that was it. It didn't say who it all belonged to and no story behind the sale. And best of all, there were not much people when we got to the auction. The first time people filled the front garden area of the house. This time, only a few people were there, seated in the tiny living room of the house. I was nervous at first because it was clear that there was an art dealer buying up almost everything. Then there was an older couple who bought a few of the paintings by the same artist that did the one I want. Darn, they better not want the one I want too!

Hubby saw a lithograph by Pro Hart that he like which was of Ned Kelly, so I bid for him and won!


Then much later, it was my painting. By then the older couple had left. I placed the first bid, then suddenly the art dealer made the second bid. I gave him a funny mean look and then he smiled at me and said ok, its yours. So I made the next and final bid and voila! It was mine. I paid a whole lot less for this painting than the first one. Hubby said it must be due to the recession. I think its because of the size! Now I've got 2 things to smile at whenever I walk past them.

Lilies by Stephen Tandori

Can you tell I like water lilies?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sometimes I Get It Right

Me: Please put your socks in the laundry basket.

Boy Wonder: You're bossy mum.

Me: That's because I am the boss!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Official Guests

2 weeks ago I had my first official guests from the Philippines stay with us. Although it took me awhile to get the house into tip top shape, Hubby said he'd never seen the house so clean since we first moved in. It also sucked that I had to wake up super early to pick them up at the airport, but seeing them come out of customs with big smiles on their faces was definitely worth it.

They said there seemed to be a show filming while they were going through customs and I told them it must have been Border Security! I love that show! The last time I went through customs there was also a sign saying they were filming. I got all excited but was disappointed when there were no cameras when I got to customs.

We had a great one week doing lot's of catching up. It was great hearing what a lot of my old high school friends were up to in the Philippines and abroad. We even took out our old year book and went through everyone's names. Since we only have 1 car, there were a few days when my guests had to take the tram themselves and explore the city on their own.

In addition to taking a tour on the Great Ocean Road, we also took them to Phillip Island for a day. Thank goodness I did a bit of homework and bought our tickets on-line. We ended up paying $24 each for their 3 Park Pass which gives you access to the Penguin Parade, Koala Reserve and Churchill Island. We drove off a bit past 10 in the morning and arrived around lunch time. We ate at the Nobbies Center which was suppose to have seals hanging out on the rocks outside. But since it was an extremely windy day, there was crud all to see. At least the kids had fun in the playroom and the free soup that came with the passes warmed us up a bit.

Hubby was also extremely excited when he realized there was go kart racing at the island, so we HAD to go. Too bad I wasn't able to take pictures of them actually racing on the circuit.





After the go karts, we went to the chocolate factory. No one has heard of the Panny's brand, but we bought a few bars and they were good! We just didn't want to pay big money to check out the factory itself.

After the factory, we went to the Koala Conservation Centre. I was really happy to finally see a real live Koala up close, but I was even happier to not have paid a separate $10.30 to get in! All it was was a tiny forest-like area with eucalyptus trees. We saw 2 koalas waaaaay up high in the trees that were asleep. They could have been stuffed animals for all we know. But good thing there was one sleeping on a branch on the elevated walkway area. If it wasn't for that one koala, the conservation centre would have been a waste of time.


I wanted my daily dose of caffeine at that point so we drove into Cowes which was the town centre. It was mostly a ghost town with a few shops open. We found a coffee shop and I sat down with the kids for a drink. Thank goodness Nachos was out cold at that point so I was able to enjoy my cup of coffee. Hubby took a phone call at that point and my guests raided the Coles supermarket.

We still had a lot of time to kill at that point before the penguin parade, so we went to Swan Lake which was right next to the parade area. I have to say that was one of the better finds at the island. It was a very pleasant few minute walk to the viewing cabin. The trail was littered with wallabies. Ok, maybe not littered with them, but there sure were quite a few bouncing around us while we walked along the trail. The viewing cabin was small with a wooden panel window which you opened to see the swans. It was very picturesque.

We headed to the Penguin Parade afterwards. I bundled up the kids as much as they would allow me, packed up our snacks and got into position. We weren't allowed to take pictures when the penguins started coming in though, so that sucked. I envisioned this massive exodus of penguins from the ocean but instead saw a splattering of small groups of penguins here and there. We kept sitting there, wondering when this "parade" of penguins would be coming in for their landing but was told a few minutes later that that was it. What?! Well, at least the walk back to the car was abit interesting with random penguin friends walking along side us behind the fence. The only picture I was able to take was this sign as we entered the parking area. Cute.



We didn't even bother going to Churchill Island. That's too bad though, because what if that was the redeeming feature of the island. I guess we won't know for now!

It wasn't all fun and games for my guests during their stay though...


They also worked for their lodging. haha!


I was sad when they had to leave. The kids were really starting to enjoy having guests around to play with. And Hubby and I enjoyed having new blood to chat with in the evenings.

Looking forward to more guests in the future. Who wants to come next?